Steve Ballmer has probably faced more long-time criticism than any CEO in America. And now there's this: A Forbes writer rates him as the CEO who most deserves to be fired.
Adam Hartung, a Forbes contributor, pulls no punches in why he believes Ballmer should be fired, writing in part:
"Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today. Not only has he singlehandedly steered Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets (mobile music, handsets and tablets) but in the process he has sacrificed the growth and profits of not only his company but 'ecosystem' companies such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and even Nokia. The reach of his bad leadership has extended far beyond Microsoft when it comes to destroying shareholder value -- and jobs."
He cites the Vista and Zune fiascos, delayed product launches, and the company's falling behind in mobile as examples of his failures, and notes that Microsoft stock was at $60 a share in 2000 when Ballmer took over, and now typically trades in the low $30s.
He then writes:
"Years late to market, he has bet the company on Windows 8 -- as well as the future of Dell, HP, Nokia and others. An insane bet for any CEO – and one that would have been avoided entirely had the Microsoft Board replaced Mr. Ballmer years ago with a CEO that understands the fast pace of technology shifts and would have kept Microsoft current with market trends."
In the past few years, there have been other calls for Ballmer's firing or resignation. A year ago, influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn said Ballmer should step down, saying "His continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock." Back in September of 2010, Ballmer received only half of his possible bonus due to failures related to the Kin, mobile phones, and tablets. On the site Glassdoor.com, Microsoft employees have also rated Ballmer as the worst tech CEO.
As GeekWire points out, though, Ballmer has also had some successes, including SharePoint, the growth of Microsoft Office, SQL Server and Windows Server, and the Xbox business.
That's true, but Ballmer's failures outpace his successes, particularly in mobile. As to whether he's America's worst CEO I can't say. But by most measures, under his leadership Microsoft's standing in the tech world has deteriorated, not strengthened.
This story, "Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Rated Worst CEO in America" was originally published by Computerworld.